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A New Darkness by Joseph Delaney
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Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: A simple, easy read with admittedly cookie-cutter characters. I didn’t read the first series in this world, but there was enough summarizing for me to understand.

Opening Sentence: There was a cold draft coming from somewhere; maybe that was making the candle flicker, casting strange shadows onto the wall at the foot of the bed.

The Review:

Tom Ward is one of the County’s newest Spooks. After his master was killed in a fearsome battle, he was forced to fall into one of the most dangerous roles one can undertake in. He deals with ghosts, ghasts, boggarts, and witches — everything that goes bump in the night. The job isn’t easy, but it must be done. It seems trouble is brewing beyond his homeland, though, trouble that will eventually rock the peace he has worked so hard to produce. With the help of a new apprentice, a girl named Jenny who is the seventh daughter of the seventh daughter, something unheard of, he will face a new, worse battle than ever before. Something is coming, an enemy the likes of which even Tom Ward has never faced…

This novel is the beginning of a companion series of sorts to the original books about the county Spooks. Was it confusing for me to delve into a book where all the world-building was completed in the last series? Well, at times. Something the author did well was recalling everything that happened in previous stories, though make no mistake, it was sometimes hard for me to sink into feelings about certain characters when all I got was recollections of memories. Like Tom’s old master. Tom missed him gravely, and often thought about him. But no matter how many times he thought about his bravery or how wise he had been, I never felt any remorse, because I never got to interact with the character as a reader. If one has already read the author’s first (pretty popular, from what I’ve heard) series, they will probably feel more connected to Tom’s pain and other emotions. I mean, I understood what had gone down, but I didn’t feel much about it. It was a lot of telling instead of showing — “I missed him.” “I was sad.”

As far as the characters go, I respected them and understood them, but I didn’t connect. A lot of that has to do with them blabbering on about memories from the past that I didn’t get to read about, but just got a quick plot summary of. The story was narrated by two characters, both of whom I found myself liking. They had very similar minds, which was somewhat offsetting considering Jenny’s bright and snarky personality was so different from Tom’s. It wasn’t hard for me to sink into their personalities, however, the writing style was simple and flowed easily. I wish that there had been a chapter or two from Grimilakin the witch’s standpoint. Now that would have been an interesting twist to see how her brain worked. She was the most intriguing of all the characters, even the main ones, whom were sorta boring.

The story felt really short. That might be because there wasn’t a bunch of little action-packed events — rather, all the events were part of a carefully orchestrated larger plotline. It was clear that there are going to be a few more books before this larger conflict resolves itself, especially after a certain cliffhanger at the end and a couple myths that seemed to be coming true. For the most part I liked that, how everything was pretty clear, though the story might have used some complexity to add interest. Sometimes stuff felt super convenient, like people coming or things happening exactly when they were needed.

I’ll be honest. I’ve been putting off reading A New Darkness for awhile. I was freaked out that it was a companion series, considering all that I had missed and the whole world that had been built up in another series. I think that if I had read the first series I may have enjoyed myself more in this one, with the world-building more rich and the character development clearer. Tom Ward had developed in the last series so that there’s not much developing left for him to do. I think mainly that job is for Jenny, now. Altogether, I thought the book was a pretty easy read with a simple enough plotline and admittedly cookie-cutter characters. I would definitely encourage lovers of the last books to give it a try!

Notable Scene:

“Listen, I’d better tell you what’s up so that you won’t get your hopes up. To become a spook’s apprentice you have to be a seventh son of a seventh son. That gives you some immunity against witches and enables you to see the dead and talk to them. That’s the basic qualification. I might as well be blunt. You’re a girl, and you don’t qualify.”

“I’m the seventh daughter of the seventh daughter,” she said. “And I can see the dead. Sometimes they talk to me.”

I turned and looked back at her- a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter with those powers . . . ? I’d never heard of such a thing.

“I’m sure you can,” I replied. “But I just don’t need an apprentice. Have I made myself clear?”

FTC Advisory: Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins provided me with a copy of A New Darkness. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Jun 6, 2015 |
Just not for me. There were odd phrases and grammatical errors (or purposes?) that jarred the flow. Also never a fan of first person narrative, especially in YA. A shame, since the theme of ghouls etc is something I am interested in. May try others in the series to be doubly sure. ( )
  Xleptodactylous | Apr 7, 2015 |
I will start this review by stating that I absolutely love the Last Apprentice series. When I found out about this new series that continues Tom Ward’s adventures, I was quite excited. However, once I started reading the book, I felt that the writing did not excite me or draw me in as much as the previous books did.

Criticisms:

Jenny
She annoyed me. I really wanted to like her character, but I couldn’t. I just didn’t see any point to her being in this book other than to be the first female apprentice. Most of the time, she just seemed to be pointlessly tagging along. Maybe she would have fit in better if she had actually done something important to the plot. Overall, the book would have been more interesting if her character had been saved for a later series.

Boredom
I spent much of the book checking how much farther I had left to read. Because Tom defeated the Fiend in the previous book, the dark was very quiet. This lack of action made the read slow and boring. I miss the frequent threats of the dark from the previous BOOKS. There was the threat of the Kobalos, but they didn’t attack much. I find that the read would be much more interesting if less time was spent on Jenny’s story/training and if more was spent on Tom’s fight against the Kobalos.

The Ending
The ending of the book seemed too abrupt. If Jenny really was recording the events, she wouldn’t just stop at that moment. Along with that, why would she still record the events in Tom’s journal if he was alive after all?

Overall, I enjoyed being able to enter the world of the Last Apprentice series again. However, the book didn’t have the same magic and intrigue as the previous books. I give this book a rating of 3.5 stars because it was enjoyable overall, but did not live up to my expectations.
  UnknownBibliophile | Sep 28, 2014 |
I got an eGalley of this book to review from NetGalley. This was a well done continuation of Tom's Ward's story, which started in The Last Apprentice series and consisted of thirteen books. A New Darkness is the first book in The Starblade Chronicles which is a planned trilogy. I really enjoyed some of the new characters introduced. I would definitely recommend reading The Last Apprentice series before this one, A New Darkness builds heavily on events started in The Last Apprentice series.

This book picks up a few months after the last book left off. Tom is trying to make a living as the Chippendale Spook. A girl named Jenny comes and wants to be his apprentice, she claims to be the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. Tom is reluctant to take her on as an apprentice but when Jenny gets captured by a creature unlike any Tom has fought before he ends up reconsidering.

Tom thinks that the new monster he ran into must be part of the Kobalos, an all male race of monsters that we were introduced to in the eleventh book of The Last Apprentice series, Slither. He sends a message to Grimalkin and she confirms his suspicions. Now they must journey deep in Kobalos territory to determine how much of a threat the Kobalos are to the County and the rest of humanity.

This was a well done novel. The addition of the character of Jenny added a lot to the story. She is very determined, spunky, positive, and comes with her own interesting set of abilities.

Grimalkin is also in the story quite a bit, and as usual her motives seem to be her own. Tom has taken some hard knocks and is a bit downtrodden throughout the book, however we see even more of his lamia abilities surfacing in this book and I enjoyed that. Alice is mentioned but not really in the story much at all, I hope we see some of her in future books.

There is quite a bit of action throughout. I thought the gore and violence was a bit heavier in this book than in the earlier Last Apprentice books. There were a lot of parts where I went “Eww, gross”.

I am not sure if the final book will have illustration throughout (as The Last Apprentice series did). I read this as an eARC and there were no illustrations in the eARC. As mentioned above I would definitely recommend reading The Last Apprentice series before reading this one, this planned three book series really builds on the events that happened in that series.

The largest disappointment for me was that this book ended on a horrible cliffhanger, I am not a fan of cliffhangers and don’t like when authors use them to keep readers reading their books. I would rather read a book because I like the story and writing style than because I am dying to know how a cliffhanger is resolved.

Overall I really enjoyed reading about these characters again and enjoyed the new threat that they faced. The writing style is very similar to The Last Apprentice series, but a bit heavier on gore. I would recommend this series to fans of the Last Apprentice series and fans of dark fantasy. ( )
  krau0098 | Aug 10, 2014 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062334530, Hardcover)

The first book in a chilling new trilogy from the author of the internationally bestselling Last Apprentice series! Tom Ward is an apprentice no longer—he is a full-fledged spook battling boggarts, witches, and other creatures of the dark. First in a three-book arc that introduces brand-new readers to Joseph Delaney's haunting world.

Tom Ward is the Spook, the one person who can defend the county from bloodthirsty creatures of the dark. But he's only seventeen, and his apprenticeship was cut short when his master died in battle. No one trusts Tom's skill, not till he's proven himself. And a fifteen-year-old girl named Jenny knows more about the three mysterious deaths in the county than Tom does. She is a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, and she wants to be Tom's first apprentice—even though a female spook is unheard of. Together, Tom and Jenny will uncover the grave danger heading straight toward the county, and they'll team up with a witch assassin to confront it.

A New Darkness begins a three-book arc that will introduce new readers to Joseph Delaney's deliciously scary imagination and electrify his longtime fans. A New Darkness is perfect for every reader who loves thrills, chills, action, and adventure—no prior knowledge of The Last Apprentice series necessary!

The Last Apprentice series, the first internationally bestselling series about Tom Ward, is soon to be a major motion picture, Seventh Son, starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Olivia Williams, Antje Traue, Djimon Hounsou, and Julianne Moore as Mother Malkin.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:59 -0400)

Although his apprenticeship was not done when John Gregory died, Tom Ward spent years learning to fight boggarts, witches, demons, and more and feels prepared to be the new county Spook, but while his youth causes many people to distrust him, Jenny is determined to be his apprentice.… (more)

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